European powers target Assad with UN sanctions
France, Britain, Germany and Portugal on Tuesday proposed UN sanctions against Syria that target President Bashar al-Assad over his crackdown on opposition protests, diplomats said.
A draft sanctions resolution, which has strong US backing and also calls for an arms embargo, was distributed to the 15-member council for the first time during consultations on the Syria crisis, envoys said.
"A draft resolution of sanctions is being circulated to the Security Council members," the French UN mission said on its Twitter account.
"Bashar is named in the resolution," a western diplomat on the Security Council said on condition of anonymity. "It also calls for an arms embargo."
The Syrian president has faced growing international criticism over the military assault against protests inspired by the Arab Spring, with more than 2,200 Syrian civilians said to have been killed since mid-March.
The resolution would target individuals and entities considered responsible for the violence, a second diplomat said, confirming that Assad's name was on the resolution.
"It would aim to stop the government getting the means to carry out the violence," the diplomat added.
Western diplomats say they expect intense negotiations before calling for a vote.
Russia and China have opposed any threat of action against Syria, fearing it would pave the way for another Western military intervention like the one in Libya. India, Brazil and South Africa have also raised objections.
China and Russia led opposition to a UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on Monday which called for a probe into violations, saying it was one-sided and politicized. India was amongst nine countries which abstained.
As permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia could veto any resolution.
Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said ahead of Tuesday's meeting that it was not the right time to impose sanctions.
China said Tuesday that it believed there should be more dialogue.
"The parties involved should seek to peacefully and properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultations," said foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in Beijing. "The future of Syria should be decided by Syria itself."
The European nations would have to win over one of the doubters if they hope to gain a convincing majority in any Security Council vote.
The Security Council has thus far only agreed to condemn the violence in Syria, which it did in a statement issued on August 3 following months of opposition from China, Russia and their council allies.
© 2011 AFP